The Springfield (Delco) football team didn't exactly draw rave reviews while beating its first three Central League opponents by a combined 30 points.
Two taut decisions, a 33-27 victory vs. Harriton and a 41-38 overtime win against Upper Darby, sandwiched a 28-7 defeat of Lower Merion.
"People were judging us on point differential," Cougars second-year coach Tom Kline said. "Sometimes there's too much emphasis put on that. I go back to the Al Davis philosophy: 'Just win, baby.' "
Springfield finally gained some respect on Friday night with a 35-25 triumph over defending Central League champion Garnet Valley. The host Jaguars came in ranked No. 5 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer.
"Since I started coaching here, I'd say it's our biggest win," said Kline, who coached under Dan Ellis, now at West Chester East, for three seasons before taking over at Springfield.
Against Garnet Valley, the Cougars (4-1 overall, 4-0 Central League) rushed for 290 yards, forced three turnovers, and blocked a pair of extra-point kicks. "I think we executed pretty well in all facets of the game," Kline said.
Cameron Durham, a quick-footed senior quarterback, carried 16 times for 199 yards and three touchdowns. The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder scored on bursts of 54, 41, and 61 yards.
Switching from last year's spread attack, Springfield now uses a triple-option scheme out of the pistol formation. John Vaccaro, formerly the boss at Lower Merion, is the coordinator.
"I'm a big fan of the run game," Kline said. "I like to run the ball, control the clock, and keep the other team's offense off the field."
Kline said it looked as if the Jaguars (4-1, 3-1) were keying on senior halfback Rob Murphy, who had rushed for 204 yards the previous week. "I think that opened up things for Cameron," the coach said.
Through five games, Murphy has carried 45 times for 450 yards and seven TDs. Also in the mix are halfbacks Barry Foster and Aaron Coyne, and fullbacks Mike Dougherty and Collin Braconnier.
A stout offensive line is made up of center Matt Doyle (6-0, 180), guards Nick Apostolu (6-5, 300) and Dom Marascio (5-10, 235), tackles Vince Marra (6-1, 215) and Mike Gade (6-4, 240), and tight end Seamus O'Hara (6-0, 180).
On defense, with a 4-2-5 look, the leaders include tackles Apostolu and Jeremy Cavanaugh, ends Marra and Dan Ketler, inside linebackers Dougherty and Adam Krauter, and strong safety Dan Smyth.
Against Garnet Valley, Krauter intercepted a fourth-quarter pass.
"In January, we set some lofty goals for the season," Kline said. "This win shows we can be one of the top teams in our league and in the district."
Quick turnaround. After allowing a TD pass midway through the first quarter, St. Joseph's Prep did all the scoring from there and downed Roman Catholic, 37-7, Saturday in the Catholic League Class AAAA opener for both squads.
Cahillites tailback Dimetri Kelly rushed for 79 yards on eight tries. The bulk of his yardage came on a 55-yard jaunt that set up Mike Keir's 25-yard strike to Notre Dame-bound wideout Will Fuller.
For the No. 3-ranked Hawks, linebackers Todd Jones and John Antiskay and end Shane Williams registered second-half sacks. Free safety Tom Johnson picked off a third-quarter pass.
Prep QB Chris Martin hit on 15 of 24 throws for 155 yards and pair of second-quarter scores: a 12-yarder to tailback Vince Moffett and a 15-yarder to rookie wideout Cameron Chambers.
A Hawks second-quarter onside kick was recovered by Dillon DeIuliis.
Extra points. Friday, in a battle of Pioneer Athletic Conference unbeatens, Pottsgove blanked visiting Spring-Ford, 26-0. For the Falcons, linebacker Jeff Adams (nine) and junior free safety Jalen Mayes (eight, all solos) combined for 17 tackles. Next in line were tackle Zach Birch (seven) and strong safety Riley Michaels (six). Spring-Ford's top tackler was linebacker Kyle Hoffner (seven, four solos). . . . Saturday, with Temple having a bye week, a couple of Owls assistant coaches were at West Catholic's 46-14 win over host Bishop McDevitt. They were presumably looking at West's Jaryd "Burger" Jones-Smith, a 6-7, 320-pound lineman, and Shaquille James, a 5-9, 150-pound multipurpose threat. . . . Pittsburgh assistant Jim Hueber was at an Imhotep Charter practice last week, primarily looking at blue-chip tailback David Williams, who is scheduled to visit Tennessee on Oct. 20, and cornerback Najee Goode. Teammate Nigel Grant, a 6-6, 240-pound end and basketball standout, is being recruited by Buffalo and North Carolina State.
Rick O'Brien: The Inquirer TOP 10
Records are through Saturday.
Last week's rankings in parentheses.
1. La Salle (1) 5-0
2. Downingtown East (2) 5-0
3. St. Joseph's Prep (3) 4-0
4. Arch. Wood (4) 4-1
5. Ridley (6) 5-0
6. North Penn (7) 3-2
7. Coatesville (9) 3-2
8. C. Bucks South (10) 5-0
9. Imhotep Charter (NR) 5-0
10. Pottsgrove (NR) 5-0
Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Malvern Prep (2-2), Pennridge (4-1), Pennsbury (2-2), Roman Catholic (2-2), West Chester Henderson (5-0).
- Rick O'Brien